TOP 5 OIL KINGS PLAYOFF MOMENTS
The 2012-13 season was once again a successful one for the Edmonton Oil Kings. As the class of the Western Hockey League's Eastern Conference, the Oil Kings set new club records for wins (51) and points (108) in the regular season. As a result of their dominance over the Kootenay Ice, Medicine Hat Tigers and Calgary Hitmen in the post-season, the Oil Kings earned their second straight berth in the WHL Championship Series against the Portland Winterhawks. The club also had nine players (Travis Ewanyk, David Musil, Martin Gernat, Michael St. Croix, Laurent Brossoit, Henrik Samuelsson, Keegan Lowe, Griffin Reinhart and Trevor Cheek) sign NHL contracts, further cementing their status as one of the CHL's top development programs. In this week’s countdown, we take a look back at the Top 5 most memorable moments of the post-season.
#5 – OPENING WITH A BANG
The 51-15-2-4 Oil Kings opened their post-season slate against the Kootenay Ice on Mar. 22, 2013. On that night, the Oil Kings imparted their will, throttling the Ice (who ended the regular season with 36 fewer points) by a 9-0 score in Game 1 at Rexall Place. Edmonton product Stephane Legault had a stellar performance, recording three goals, four assists and a +4 rating in the victory. Edmonton went on to win the series four games to one, advancing to face the Medicine Hat Tigers in Round 2.
#4 – TIC-TAC-TOE
Tied 2-2 heading into Game 5 against the Calgary Hitmen in the Eastern Conference Championship Series, the Oil Kings needed their veterans to step up and deliver. In front of a WHL playoff-best crowd of 11,088 at Rexall Place, the Oil Kings scored one of the prettiest goals of the hockey season -- at any level. A 60-foot, seeing-eye pass by Dylan Wruck found the stick of Ashton Sautner at the near side. One-touching it back across an equal distance to the doorstep, Oilers prospect Travis Ewanyk met the delivery at the lip of the crease, roofing a one-timer up and over a sprawling Chris Driedger from an impossible angle. That goal gave the Oil Kings a commanding 3-0 lead, paving the way for a 5-1 win and a 3-2 series lead heading back to the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.
#3 – STUNNING THE WINTERHAWKS
With the Rose Garden rocking as the WHL Championship Series got underway with Game 1 in Portland, the Oil Kings did the impossible. Silencing the nearly 11,000 diehards in attendance, Dylan Wruck, Henrik Samuelsson (2) and Curtis Lazar each scored, Stephane Legault recorded three assists and MVP goaltender Laurent Brossoit was exceptional, making 35 saves as the Oil Kings grabbed a 1-0 series lead on the back of a 4-1 win in Game 1. While the Oil Kings went on to lose the series in six games, the club did record victories in two of the three games played at the Rose Garden -- an impressive feat in the most hostile environments and against the WHL’s top team.
#2 – HATING THE HITMEN
Trailing the series one game to none, the Oil Kings needed a rebound effort in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final against the provincial and division rival Calgary Hitmen. With less than three minutes to play as the home side led 2-0, the Hitmen responded with a barrage of cheap shots and undisciplined penalties. A dangerous hit by Hitmen forward Pavlo Padakin on Oil Kings defenceman Ashton Sautner was the last straw. In response as their teammate lay motionless at the other end, Oilers prospects Mitch Moroz and Travis Ewanyk charged back the other way, threw down their gloves and challenged anyone who dared. Those who didn’t oblige felt their wrath anyway as all hell broke loose to the right of the Zamboni gate. Fuming at what had happened, Moroz nearly chased several Hitmen players down the tunnel as they were being ushered to the dressing room, but was eventually contained by the quick-acting linesmen on scene. In all, the Hitmen were assessed 141 minutes in penalties on the night. And there was, indeed, a hockey game to be played. The Oil Kings won that, too, destroying the Hitmen by a 6-0 count.
#1 – OVERTIME MAGIC
Back at the Rose Garden with their backs against the wall in Game 5 of the WHL Championship Series, Michael St. Croix stepped up and delivered one of the most heroic performances of his career. Facing elimination as the game progressed to overtime, St. Croix tallied his second of the night at 7:24 of the fourth period, silencing the sold-out crowd and sending the series back to Edmonton for Game 6 in one of the most emotional nights in Oil Kings history. St. Croix, 19 and a prospect of the New York Rangers, ended the post-season with an Oil Kings record of 13 goals and 26 points in the post-season.
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